Ep 14: Headfakes & Heartbreaks (The Banishing of Hagar and Ishmael, Genesis 21)

“A few chapters back, Sarah tells Abraham to get rid of Hagar, and Abraham says “she’s your slave. She’s your issue.  Do whatever you want.”  In other words, you’ve already trafficked this Egyptian to me, I’ve already raped her, I don’t give a shit.”  But now, oh, but now.  But now there is a son involved, and so now, this jackass seems to care…”

Hagar’s story is far from over as the cycle of trauma in Abraham’s family continues. A few episodes later, we’ll see how Sarah’s actions in this chapter haunt Isaac into adulthood and into his own marriage.

Strange New Worlds (and Patreon)

Hello! 

Worst Church Ever here.  We started our podcast on May 5, 2021, and we’re about to hit our 500th download.  That’s not earth-shaking news, but it’s also not bad for a new pod with no budget that comes out and tells you how much it sucks right from the start.

Why Worst Church Ever?  The name is part joke, part humblebrag, part theological aspiration. It’s a reminder (to ourselves) that we don’t know everything, that we don’t claim to represent the entirety of the progressive Christian tradition, and it’s a little bit of flaming coal for those pastors (conservative and progressive alike) that think it’s their job to be the hippest, coolest, biggest, best. That’s not our journey, but we hope they’re warm and well-fed on theirs.

We’re as sick as you are of words like “deconstructing,” but we have a hunch that deconstruction hasn’t gone nearly as far as it needs to in Christian circles.  No, we can’t just slap together a flaming pile of garbage and call it deconstruction (this isn’t a cooking competition), but we can continue to look our scriptures, traditions, and theologies with fresh eyes.  This podcast has a near-obsessive need to do just that.  In the process, we’re rejecting theologies of exclusion, believing that the Good News is going to be good, and not just for people who “get it” (whatever that means).   

Our costs are fairly low (most of the platforms we use are free), but we’re launching a Patreon account to help defray the occasional (modest) social ad buy and to connect to people who are interested in taking an honest, thoughtful look at these issues together.

That’s our story. What’s yours?  Let’s connect!

Quantum Gospel, Cosmic Christ

Hushed and tired tones from 1AM. Holy Ghost Coast to Coast. Quantum physics, Upanishads, Schrodinger, Eden, and Jesus…

We skipped the bumper music and reached directly for the warm milk and melatonin. The snoring dogs scared away Schrodinger’s cat.

https://anchor.fm/worstchurchever/embed/episodes/Bonus-Episode-5-Quantum-Gospel–Quantum-Eden-e12nhvn

Many quantum theories predict that objects move from the quantum to the macro realm only when (and only because) they are observed. This bonus episode considers the incarnation of Christ as God’s quantum choice to observe us from within the flesh and blood of Jesus. In choosing to enact this course of action from the infinite scenarios in the probability cloud of God’s consciousnesses, God elects a reality in which God is bound to us. We also consider the quantum origins of evil and more.

Ep. 10: Circumcision, Power, and Violence in Genesis 17

Who gets to put (which) skin in the game, and why does it matter?

Partial transcript:

Hello and Welcome to Worst Church Ever, the progressive Christian podcast that grew up down the block from Wayside School.  We like our stories sideways and our Biblical theology…subversive. 

In the last episode, we talked about Sarah’s treatment of Hagar in Chapter 16 as Sarah’s way of reproducing her own trauma.  Trafficked by her husband in the court of Pharaoh, Sarah now traffics her Egyptian slave in Abraham’s tent. We said that it’s hard to see the patriarch and matriarch as anything but villains in this story, and we ended with Hagar’s exaltation of El Roi, the God who she saw in the wilderness, and, perhaps more importantly, the God who saw her.

We pick up today with Chapter 17, which again finds God (Yahweh) making a covenant with Abram/Abraham:  

“ When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.”
9 God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. 13 Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Listen to episode 10 for the rest of the story!

Who Do We Think We Are, Anyway?

Progressive Christian podcast about social justice, Biblical Studies (that’s Biblical Studies, friends, not church camp Bible Studies!) and more. The world’s worst Christian podcast. Deconstructing the stranglehold that fundamentalist and conservative evangelical voices seem to have on American religious discourse. Progressive Christians digging around in what the Bible actually says, because the Good News is supposed to be good…

Available Spotify, Apple, Google, and more. If you like what we’re doing, please do subscribe and review on your platform of choice. Thank you!

A Rich Young Ruler Reimagined

For some reason, WordPress and Anchor.fm don’t seem to be working together on every single episode. The episodes all exist over at the Anchor.fm page, and on most of the other platforms (Spotify, iTunes, etc). Not sure why this is happening, but can share links in the meantime.

Here’s a reverse engineering of the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10. This is one of the ways it could have gone.

Episode 9: Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar: The Perpetuation of Sexual Trauma in Genesis 16

Summary

The story of Sarah and Hagar through the lens of reproduced trauma and family (?) systems.  Trigger warning: sexual assault, trafficking, and rape. 

Partial transcript:

Hello and Welcome to Worst Church Ever, the progressive Christian podcast the boomer fundies in your life warned you about on Facebook.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and if having good intentions is the worst thing we ever do, I say good for us.  

There’s a difference, of course, between good intentions and the following of lesser angels, and, truth be told, deep, deep down, I think we tend to know the difference.

Today we look at a section from the Genesis chapter 16.  Recall that in the last chapter, God (Yahweh) has promised Abraham an heir from his own issue, and not only that, but has promised him more descendants than there are stars in the sky.  Abraham will be the father of a great nation, that much, so far, is repeatedly made clear.  But who’s the mother?

That’s where we start today.  You should know going in that we’re going to talk about abusive relationships, sexual assault, and sexual slavery.  Feel free to skip this episode if those are triggers. 

We are, as of the last episode, purposefully lagging a bit behind the Narrative Lectionary, which skips from the middle of Abraham and Sarah’s story right over to Jacob and Joseph.  Remember that the whole point of the Narrative Lectionary is to show the Bible as one unified story, and even though the Bible may be that for devotional purposes, we need to remember that it’s not what the Bible is as such.  We’re interested in the disparate traditions, the competing ideologies, the manifold incongruities that can, if allowed, breathe new life into what we mean when we say that these texts are in some way special, let alone sacred.

To do that, we have to look at stories I’d rather not spend time with.  I am getting tired of Abraham, though part of it could be the paint fumes and interruptions of the last episode.  I want to move on, but there’s too much shit, and some of it really is awful, to get through.  Case in point, the beginning of Genesis 16.  In Chapter 15, God (Yahweh) signs and seals the covenant with Abraham and reassures Abraham he will indeed be the father of a great nation, despite his and Sarah’s advanced age and prior infertility.  

Let’s look at the text:

16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, 2 and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. 4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.

7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Now you have conceived and shall bear a son;

    you shall call him Ishmael,

    for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild ass of a man,

with his hand against everyone,

    and everyone’s hand against him;

and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”

13 So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

15 Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael…

Episode 1: The Fundamentalist Next Door

Summary

“I know all the moves,” I said.  “I grew up in that circus…”